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My Project

Shirah Kraus's picture

Visual representation of my work:!the-good-in-others/jbcwo


During one of those whatthefuckamidoing (???) moments, I emailed Jody asking how much I should put on the website, what is the quantity of content I should have? She answered:

"In terms of the group project, maybe the question is not so much about how much content is covered and more about what you want to convey to our audience/participants on campus…. it might be helpful to ask yourself what you've learned that you think would be important/helpful/impactful to share with our community in the exhibit/event."

When I was thinking about what I want to “convey [and] share with our community in the exhibit/event,” I started thinking about going into RCF every week and engaging with topics relating to prisons in our three classes and having the kinds of conversations and developing relationships within the 360. Most members of the community have not had this experience. I wanted to share a little bit of that, even though it is impossible to capture without actually being there. Jody wrote in her chapter about telling, but not telling. This is what I hoped to do, and maybe I really did tell something. I wanted to say that people incarcerated are people, they are complex, more than just criminals. Privilege has so much to do with who is and is not incarcerated. No one is innocent. The system is fucked up and dehumanizing. We should (and people are) create a system that holds people accountable and prevents/reduces harm rather than perpetuate it. We need to stop treating people as “disposable” and address the real problems: racism, classism, ableism, sexism, heterosexism, cis-sexism, etc… I want the audience to question this system, to challenge it, to engage with some of the same dilemmas we have been grappling with all semester. And I wanted to share what inspired me, what I learned, and what I want to see in the world--from personal experience to systemic oppression theory to art to radical imagination. I wanted to express what was in my head and soul, what I just wanted to put out into the universe even if no one was paying attention. Like Michelle Francl mentioned when she visited class, some of what I created was under the assumption that no one would see it or read it and yet there it all is for the world to see.

I think that I accomplished what I wanted to do. I am also glad that we made a website, so that I can share it with family and friends. I can keep editing and adding. I can access it almost anywhere and share it with almost anyone and go back to it almost anytime. This is really exciting. I made some adjustments based on the reception and readability that became clear when others were looking at the site during the opening reception. And even today, I was adding more. I continue to be inspired and think of new things to add. I also really enjoy working on the site (and maybe I am a perfectionist). I am glad that I got excited about the project—for a while I was confused and unsure and unmotivated. I learned a lot about making a website and about how I have transformed during this 360. In August, I would not have called myself an abolitionist and I definitely didn’t know the names of anyone in prison. And I think a lot of what I learned I don’t even know yet. As I continue to reflect and look back on this experience, I will recognize so much of what I learned that I cannot articulate right now.